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Security & privacy

Coronavirus scams: Don’t click these fast food and free delivery offers

A change in the way we eat is one of the most obvious signs of how COVID-19 has disrupted the world. Instead of gathering together in restaurants, people are now relying on delivery and takeout more than ever.

These options are far safer when it comes to preventing the spread of germs, and contact-free options go a long way in helping to flatten the curve of infection. Tap or click here to see how to properly clean and sanitize your food deliveries.

In light of the influx in deliveries and takeout orders, hackers and cybercriminals are now using fake coupons and delivery deals to trick people into sharing their personal data. If you get a special offer for your favorite fast-food joint, here’s why you might want to think twice before opening it.

Spoiling appetites

Saying that COVID-19 has led to a surge in cybercrime would be an understatement. The sheer volume of fraud, phishing and digital crimes has skyrocketed in the past several weeks, and threat analysts are scrambling to warn consumers of the latest attacks. Tap or click here to see why cybercrime is on the rise.

One such group, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG), has put together a new bulletin outlining several of the most common digital threats to consumers currently circulating. These include phishing schemes related to COVID-19, as well as fraudulent healthcare alerts that aim to extract your personal data. Tap or click here to see the top threats.

A new and unusual phishing scheme outlined in the report, however, deals with fake fast-food coupons and offers for free delivery. According to TAG, these attacks come in the form of emails with links to COVID-19-related food promotions.

If you click the links contained in the emails, you’ll end up on a fake website that asks you to log in with personal information like a Google account. Once the form is filled out, the data will be stolen and saved to a server elsewhere.

Oh, and to top it off, you don’t get any food deals either! It’s a lose/lose situation.

What makes these attacks extra shady, though, is the fact that Google specifies them as originating from foreign governments. Yes, you heard that right: Foreign governments are attacking Americans by using our love of fried food against us!

They really do know us well, don’t they?

How can I fight these fast-food phishing frauds?

As with any phishing scheme, avoiding unfamiliar emails and links is the easiest way to stay safe. But sometimes, knowing the difference between a real email and phishing email can be tough.

Luckily, Google is a step ahead of you. According to the report, Google claims that the majority of these emails were successfully redirected to users’ spam folders, which allowed Google to blacklist the domains they linked to.

In other words, Google found out these links were dangerous by trawling through their users’ email accounts. Good job Google, but that kind of surveillance is a bit creepy, don’t you think? Tap or click to find out everything else Google knows about you.

In addition to the fast-food frauds, users can stay on top of healthcare scams by keeping an eye out for specific email addresses, attachments and subject lines.

The FBI has put together a list of some of the most common scam email accounts and archetypes targeting healthcare companies at the moment, but these same accounts have been spotted attempting to phish ordinary email users as well.

If you get what appears to be a health-related COVID-19 email, check it against this list to be 100% sure it’s safe to open.

Phishing is a huge problem, but the strength of the scam is also its biggest weakness. Phishing relies on being tricky enough to fool people into opening a malicious email. If everybody knows what to look for, nobody can be fooled and the phishing scheme fails. To stay safe, all you need to do is stay knowledgeable.

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